Australia’s national science agency has identified a list of global megatrends that will shape the next 20 years.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Wednesday published the latest edition of Our Future World, a once-in-a-decade report on global megatrends.
It identified seven trends researchers said would shape the next 20 years, including adapting to climate change, escalating health challenges and increasing reliance on artificial intelligence (AI).
“Some of the trends we identified have been widely discussed, while others are newer and directly related to our experiences during the pandemic,” the report co-lead author Stefan Hajkowicz said in a media release.
“We are, for example, just beginning to understand the potential long-term impacts of the pandemic on mental health and chronic illness.”
It warned the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health challenges, with one in five Australians now reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress.
Additionally, the pandemic-fuelled boom in digitisation, an increased focus on potential solutions to resource constraints including food security were identified as significant megatrends.
According to the report, while Australia saw a record level increase in public trust in institutions during the pandemic, this “trust bubble” has since burst, with societal trust in business dropping by 7.9 percent and trust in government declining by 14.8 percent from 2020-21.
“But these challenges also tell us where the most powerful innovation can be found, when we see a different future and leverage science to create it,” Larry Marshall, chief executive of the CSIRO, said.
“We have the opportunity now to use science to invent the kind of world we want to live in, but we have to act, and we have to do it together.”